No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


There are several things you can make with just self raising flour and water - here are some of them.

Yesterday I made several crepes Suzette for an after-dinner treat, using these pancakes. I had some batter leftover, so for lunch today I made a large pancake, spread half of it with hummus, with some slices of tomato, added a sprinkle of nooch and some black pepper, and folded it over. Voila! A hummus and tomato omelette! Simply gorgeous!

Pancake day tomorrow - but you don't need eggs and milk, just s/raising flour and water will suffice - and you won't be able to tell the difference! This recipe will save you a packet. Flour and water pancakes - just about as simple as it gets!

It's hard to believe, but these are just as good as those made with traditional ingredients.

And here it is - can you tell the difference?
200g self raising flour (you can also make these with gluten-free flour)
600ml water

1 mug self-raising flour
2 mugs water

Whisk together, to get rid of the lumps, and pour enough into a medium hot, oiled, frying pan to cover the base. Flip over to cook the other side when the bottom is browned to your liking - then serve with the topping of your choice.

(There's also a case to be made for putting some flour in a jug and adding enough water to make it into a fairly runny batter.)

I'm very fond of the usual sugar and lemon juice - but I also like them spread with homemade marmalade. I'm told chocolate spread is also very tasty on pancakes - I'll have to try it!

So, the benefits:
Cost – a batch of these pancakes will cost around 10p for 10 or more – about  a penny each. As against up to around 90p for a traditional batch.
Ease of making - you don't have to plan for these except by having a packet of self-raising flour in the cupboard. Really, there's no need to measure anything - just tip some flour in a bowl or jug and add water - stirring all the time - until it reaches the consistency you want.
Health – if you’re trying to cut down on dairy or eggs, these are for you. The young sister-in-law of one of my students (Nadine) is allergic to eggs, so Nadine was delighted to learn you don’t need them.*
Animal welfare. No animals will be harmed in the making of these pancakes.

Calories - This makes, say 10 pancakes. Self raising flour has 350 calories per 100g, so the combined total of the batch is 700g. Divided by 10 pancakes that makes 70 cals per pancake. Adding lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar (5g) is 20 cals, so a good-sized pancake can be made for around 90 calories.

Nadine, one of my students told me about her young sister-in-law. She loves cooking and has been helping her mum make pancakes  (even flipping them) - and then had to watch her family eat them, for years. Yet she's never been able to taste one, until now. Nadine took the recipe round and they made pancakes straight away - and the youngster tucked into one with absolute delight. "That's pancake day sorted from now on!" was Nadine's comment!

Here's how I got to where I am with these.

Sunday, 13 April 2014


Needing something sweet, I made my version of a crepe suzette  after dinner tonight. 15 minutes after having the idea, I was tucking in. 

I used this recipe as a base - except that I didn't measure anything.

At 8.30pm I put the frying pan on a medium heat with a little oil and grabbed a jug and a bag of self-raising flour. Poured about a handful of flour into the jug and added some water - whisked with a spoon, then with a fork. The batter was a little on the thick side, so I added more water and whisked for another minute.

4 minutes later I poured about half of the batter into the frying pan, tilted it so that it covered the base of the pan and adjusted the heat.

After another 4 minutes I turned the pancake over - using a spatula since my cast iron frying pan is just too heavy to flip.

Whilst it was cooking I placed a good dessertspoonful of my home-made ginger marmalade into a dish, added a little water, and stuck it in the microwave for 45-50 seconds.

At 8.42, I turned the pancake over again to give the first side another couple of minutes.

8.44  - slid out the pancake onto a plate, poured the marmalade sauce over the middle of the pancake and drizzled Benedictine over the sauce. Folded the pancake over the filling and poured soya cream over the top.

8.45 tucked in to the Crepe Suzette - sublime!

CHEAP AND CHEERFUL - TEMPURA, with a yeast-risen batter (vegan)

One of the cheapest, and most satisfying, meals you can make!

(I also make these using a self-raising flour and water batter.)

75g strong white flour
75g strong wholemeal flour (or you could use all white)
1/4 or less teaspoon of salt
250ml lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast (or 5g dried active yeast)

1 Linda McCartney sausage
50g or so of Fry's polony
I large field mushroom

And vegetable oil - 1/2 a centimetre of oil in either a saucepan or a small frying pan.

You don't want the portion sizes too big - this is my preference

Thursday, 10 April 2014

VEGAN SODA BREAD PIZZAS with sun-dried tomatoes and olives

More pics further down

It was the end of term session this morning, of our U3A Enquiring minds (P4C) course, so we all brought something in for a buffet lunch. My contribution was a couple of vegan pizzas - with a soda bread crust - which went down a storm.

200g self raising flour
1 teaspoon bouillon powder
125ml liquid (100g water, 25g tomato puree)
50g oil from the sun-dried tomatoes (This enhances the crust and gives it almost a shortcrust pastry-type feel.)

1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 dessertspoon mushroom sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
2 dessertspoons nutritional yeast

This was mashed with a potato masher to make it more smooth, and simmered to reduce it.

Sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips, mushrooms, olives, nutritional yeast and oregano

Friday, 4 April 2014


Here's a simple 'cheese sauce' - low in calories and so easy to make!

(Use it with this lasagne layered with potato.)

You'll need:
Free and Easy cheese flavour sauce mix - available in the 'Free from' section of Sainsbury's;
Nutritional yeast - from your local health food shop;
Bouillon powder - widely available

4 heaped teaspoons of the sauce mix
300ml water
1 teaspoon (5g) bouillon powder
2 dessertspoons (10g) nutritional yeast (nooch)

Mix a little of the water into the powder in a saucepan and stir into a paste - add the rest of the water. Place over a low heat and allow to simmer, stirring frequently. When the sauce thickens, stir in the flavourings.

And that's it!

Calorie count: The sauce - 78 cals; bouillon powder - 12 cals; nooch - 35 cals.
Total - 125 calories

I'm off to buy a cauliflower - can't wait to make a tasty, vegan, cauliflower cheese! :)

I finally got around to making a cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake, using this cheese sauce variation which is quite a bit richer than the one above:

Cheese sauce:
2 dessertspoons Free and Easy cheese sauce powder 78 cals
2 dessertspoon nooch - 40
1 teaspoon bouillon powder - 12
1 teaspoon curry powder – 5
1 teaspoon garlic powder – 5
100g soy cream - 190
200g water

Thursday, 3 April 2014


I cannot believe just how easy and tasty this was - why have I not made it before?

I made this for a  non-fasting day (NFD) - but it turns out to have very few calories at all, so it's perfect for either a FD or a NFD!

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake 

(Serves 2)
Half a head of cauliflower, in florets - 90
Couple of florets of broccoli - 31
100g onion, chopped - 31
100g celery, chopped - 8

Cheese sauce:
2 dessertspoons Free and Easy cheese sauce powder 78 cals
2 dessertspoon nooch - 40
1 teaspoon bouillon powder - 12
1 teaspoon curry powder – 5
1 teaspoon garlic powder – 5
100g soy cream - 190
200g water

Divide the cauli and broccoli into florets and lightly simmer in a little water, along with the onion and celery.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce:
Mix the dry ingredients in a small saucepan, then add the water and soya cream. Place over a little heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens.

Place the tender vegetables in a shallow baking dish and cover with the cheese sauce.

Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes.

Total calories 524 - so 262 cals per portion

I had this with 85g of homemade bread - 215 calories, so the total is still under 500 calories. If I was to have this on a FD I would have it with a small baked potato - 100g would be 72 cals.

5:2, or INTERMITTENT FASTING - some hints and tips

5:2: if you’re doing it for weight loss means no snacking – ever!

If you want a treat – and who doesn’t, now and again – incorporate it into your meal. If you do have to have something, a biscuit, say, then look at it before each mouthful and make a conscious decision whether or not you need it. 

(BTW, the only safe way I’ve found to eat a biscuit is to take one (that’s 1!) out of the packet on your way out of the house. Then don’t start eating it until you’re halfway down the road.)

Other techniques I’ve found useful:
Use smaller plates for your evening meal
Put less on your fork and eat each mouthful slowly, savouring the flavours.
It takes roughly 20 minutes for your body to recognise that it has eaten – so, if you feel like a second helping, put a timer on for 20 minutes. If you still want something, then go ahead, but at least you’ve thought about it.
After the evening meal, announce in a loud voice that, ”The kitchen is closed!” And mean it!
If you do succumb to the lure of the leftover curry on the hob late in the evening, tell yourself, “Ah, well, that’s breakfast sorted! I’ve just had it a bit early.”
But before you get to that stage, set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes – or drink a pint of water – or go and do some exercise.

Wine. I’ve reduced the amount of wine I drink by about a half. I only know this because, whereas I used to make 20gals of wine a year, now I only make 10 gallons.

I used to drink half a tumbler of red with my evening meals, but noticed on a couple of occasions that the wine was disappearing without me even noticing! J So I reduced the amount I put in the glass and tried to appreciate every mouthful. It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually I found I could enjoy as little as 50ml with dinner. Not every night, sometimes I have double that, but often, when I do, I still have a centimetre or so of wine left after I’ve finished eating.

On FDs I don’t have any alcohol, instead, with my meal I have the same tumbler filled with iced water. The ritual and the unfamiliarity of the iced water seems to satisfy the need for a drink whilst I’m eating. I’ve tried this on ‘normal’ days – with limited success, I have to say!

Mumsnet has had a thread, 'Tips and links for those practicing IF'. Well worth a look!


Thursday 3rd April 2014 
Exciting update!!

Two weeks or so ago, I graduated from 3 sets of daily exercise to 4 sets - both kettlebell and weight-bearing (on alternate days). And this morning I purchased the kb upgrade I've been promising myself for when I reached this level.

I did envisage going from a 3kg kb to a 5kg - only to discover that they were only sold in multiples of 3kg. So, to my surprise, I've come away with a 6kg kettlebell!

I've had a tentative go at swinging it around and manhandling it, and decided that, not wishing to strain anything, I'll drop down to half (ten) or even a quarter (five) of the number of times I carry out an exercise, and build up from there. 

I've been complimented on my improved physique in recent weeks, and, just this morning, I was told that my posture was much better nowadays!

Another change to my routine is that instead of carrying out 20 reps of my press ups - which, up to now have been xfit ones (where you lie on the floor and push yourself up - taking your hands off the floor each time) - I'll try and do several proper press ups, lowering myself down as far as I can, but not touching the floor, first. Then gradually increase those over the coming weeks. 

My long-term goal is to beat my very fit son in the number of press ups in a minute. I'm hoping that, since he doesn't know he's in a competition, I'll take him by surprise - and whop his ass!

Saturday 18th Jan 2014
I've just discovered I've grown back the inch I lost as I aged! I shall create a separate post to explain this - but I'm now back at 5' 7" (my younger height) after being 5'6" for many years. Purely as a result of starting pull-up exercises 7 weeks ago at the end of November. Look out for the link.

Thursday 16th Jan 2014

Here's my version of the kettlebell 2-handed swing. I shall ask Mumsnet's very own gym bunny, BCF, to critique my technique - and she's not known for pulling her punches, quite the reverse.

Not much change to my exercise routine - except that I now do 3 x 45second planks - and I can now lift myself about 15cm whilst doing my chin-ups.

Saturday 4th Jan 2014
When I first looked at IF, I came across several blogs which, whilst extolling the virtues of IF, also emphasised strength training - specifically weightlifting: Martin Berkham - IF and weight-lifting Mark Sisson - The Primal Blueprint Brad Pilon - blogging on IF since 2006 Todd Becker and Hormesis

(All these blogs are well worth perusing - they contain a wealth of info, most of it freely offered.)

I did nothing about this, rationalising that these blogs reflected the particular interests of the blogger. 

However, I've now been practicing IF for almost 2 years, and I've recently added strength building exercises to that regime - inspired, it has to be said, by the womenfolk on the Mumsnet 5:2 threads.

Here's my programme so far:
Back exercises: I had a problem with my back, many years ago, so, since then I’ve been doing two daily exercises to prevent a recurrence:
I lie on my back on the floor with my knees bent and do 100 curls while keeping my lower back on the floor – arms out in front
And then I do the reverse – I lie on my front and bring my head and shoulders up whilst keeping my hips on the floor.

Up until I retired – over 20 years ago, now – I cycled to work, in summer reaching about 120 miles a week – so I was pretty fit.

I joined a gym for a few years – mainly treadmill and cross-trainer.

Then I gained access to a small swimming pool – I spend about 30 minutes a day in there. Some swimming, but mainly I run (jog?) around the pool (in 1.25m of water) 100 times – took me 12 mins 52 seconds the other day, a PB. And I spend 5 minutes going back and forth the length (4 metres) of the pool – my PB with this one is 62 lengths.

At the end of November, I started to look at home-based strength building exercises and came across 5 exercises that can be done at home (4 if you ignore the lunges that are not recommended for anyone with knee problems.)

This was my programme for today:
30 secs plank          x 3 (PB 90secs – I could do more)
20 push ups         x 3
20 squats                  x 3
10 Pull-ups – about 3-4cm         x 3 
(I do these on the stairs overhang. When I began, it was all I could do to hang there for about 5 seconds)

I’d only been doing these exercises for a couple of weeks when I began to notice a difference – I have a heavy portable oven, which I’ve always needed help to move. Not any more, I can handle it myself, now!

Then, once again inspired by Mumsnet, I asked for and received a 3KG kettlebell for Christmas, and I’m building up an exercise routine with this.

This is where I am, ATM:
20 ‘steering wheel’ reps        x 2
2 handed swing x 20 x 2
Sumo deadlift x 20         x 2
Swing x 20 L        x 2
Swing x 20 R         x 2
Clean and jerk L x 20 x 2
Clean and jerk R x 20        x 2

I keep a record of all this on a Word file - and I’m building up to 4 sets of each. Time of day, apart from my morning swim, is variable, whenever I can fit it all in! 

As well as all this, I’ve been looking at the health benefits of cold showers and, after a very tentative beginning, I can now manage over 3 minutes under cold water. Not sure if it’s making any difference, but apparently it takes several weeks before you feel the benefits.

One last thing – I try and do 20 minutes a day bladder muscle exercise. I soon know if I’ve let this one slip – I find myself getting up for the loo in the middle of the night!

I have to say that I’m as fit now as I’ve ever been – I feel like a 40-year-old, a fit 40-year-old. But, since I've only been weight training for a few weeks, I put that down mainly to fasting. 

And confirmation of this is that my age is apparently 47 according to AgeFit, and my Vo2Max is 45! So that’s about 30 years I’ve got in hand.

I haven’t got into HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) yet – tried it with running on the spot, but my knee joints protested – just as they did 30-odd years ago (which is why I got the bike in the first place).